Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 4, 1954

Veto Power

Paul Williams, The Dalles, Oregon

I know of a small congregation that has been established for many years. This is a fine, working congregation. But it does not have elders.

Why? Because there is one man in that church who objects. He says, "We tried appointing elders once, but it didn't work." Of course, it didn't work because he would not submit himself to the elders. Consequently, a church with at least four men qualified to be elders is still functioning without officers.

This is not an isolated problem. I am persuaded that one of the leading reasons why many congregations do not have elders is that there are some in those churches who simply will not submit to the rule of anyone.

What should be done in such a situation? First of all, it is unscriptural for a church to exist for any period of time without elders when there are qualified men to serve. Paul, on his first journey, appointed elders in every church (Acts 14:23) shortly after he had established them. It is God's will that a church be governed by elders, or else why did he give us such a detailed list of their duties and qualifications? It is sinful to allow one man to prevent a church from being properly governed.

I think a wise course to follow in such a case would be for the preacher to set forth the duties and qualifications of elders together with the duties of the members toward them. Then, the congregation should submit to him the names of those they deem qualified. These men should be examined as to their qualifications, and the names of those who seem qualified and are willing to serve should be submitted to the church. A period should be set aside before appointing them during which time any objections to these men can be submitted in writing to the evangelist. These objections must, of course, be on the basis of their qualifications. Nine times out of ten, if the congregation has gone this far with the proceedings, the "objecting" brother will not submit any objection. If he does, then it should be examined carefully. If the charge is valid and the men are not qualified, then they should not be appointed. If the charge is not valid, they should be appointed in spite of the objection.

To allow one man to block the appointment of elders is to give one man "veto" power in the church. No man should have that power.